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Without a Map: A Memoir

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Editorial Reviews

Juliet Wittman
Each chapter of Without a Map is polished and elegantly written; each reads like an individual essay. This leads to some unnecessary repetition and a few jarring discontinuities in chronology. But the chapters circle and emphasize a central theme that has to do with parenting, nurturing and the author's difficult journey toward self-sufficiency, so that, overall, the structure is shapely and the book yields poignant insights.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

It was 1965 when Hall was expelled from her New Hampshire high school, shunned by all her friends, made to leave her mother's home, and kept hidden from sight in her father's house—all because she was a sexually naïve 16-year-old, pregnant by a college boy who wasn't all that interested in her anyway. And in this memoir, chapters of which have been published in magazines, Hall narrates this bittersweet tale of loss. After childbirth her baby was put up for adoption so fast, she never had even a glimpse of him. She finished high school at a nearby boarding school, then soon wandered to Europe and eventually found herself just walking, alone, from country to country. Somewhere in the Middle East she scraped bottom and repatriated herself. She accumulated another lover and had two children, before her first son, the one she was forced to abandon, made contact. Making peace with him was deeply healing. This painful memoir builds to a quiet resolution, as Hall comes to grips with her own aging, the complexities of forgiveness and the continuity of life. (Apr.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

The year: 1965. The place: a small, insular New Hampshire community where church and home life are dominant forces. When Hall becomes pregnant at 16, she is shunned by family members and friends she's known throughout her school years. After traveling to the Middle East and suffering the indignities of loneliness and poverty, which include selling her own blood, she returns to the United States and creates a new life out of her still-palpable grief. Finally, she is able to forgive her own parents, who never offer an apology. She then receives a visit from her 21-year-old son, whom she had been forced to put up for adoption and who was raised in an atmosphere of abuse and scarcity. Though Hall's memoir—her first book—occasionally loses ground to the very grief she is trying to overcome, the message of redemptive compassion makes this a worthwhile and moving read. Appropriate for all public libraries.
—Elizabeth Brinkley Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
An unusually powerful coming-of-age memoir. Hall spent her childhood in a remote corner of New Hampshire. She got pregnant during her 16th summer, after sex with a college student she barely knew. It was 1965, and traditional values reigned in small-town New England. Busybodies at the Halls' church somehow overlooked the fact that her parents were divorced, but they wouldn't ignore Meredith's indiscretion. The moment her pregnancy became public, she was kicked out of school. Her mother, deeply ashamed, sent her to live with her father in another town. Dad and stepmom grudgingly took her in, but forbade her to leave the house, or even to come downstairs when they had guests. Hall had a baby boy, gave him up for adoption and enrolled at a far-away boarding school. She slogged through senior year feeling hopelessly alienated from her mirthful classmates. Nonetheless, she dutifully went next to Bennington, only to drop out after a term. Then she began to drift. She moved to Boston, worked odd jobs, bounced from apartment to apartment. She allowed a fight with her stepmother to destroy her relationship with her father. Decades later, living in Maine, Hall began to pull her life together. She matriculated at Bowdoin College, the only "nontraditional student" the school had ever admitted; the short chapter detailing her dogged campaign to gain admission and her first day of classes is one of the most understatedly moving sections here. In 1987, her grown son tracked her down, enabling her to make peace with him and with herself. "I have caused harm, failed in the expectations and obligations of love," she concludes in characteristically assured prose. "I have loved well. What I do each day iscarried within me until I die."Searching, humble and quietly triumphant: Hall has managed to avoid all the easy cliches.
From the Publisher
Hall emerges as a brave writer of tumultuous beauty.—Alanna Nash, Entertainment Weekly

"First-time author Hall pens a haunting meditation on love, loss, and family . . . Hall colors outside the lines with this memoir, full of unexpected twists and turns."—Caroline Leavitt, People (rated 4 out of 4 stars)

"Hall's memoir is a sobering portrayal of how punitive her close-knit New Hampshire community was in 1965 when, at the age of 16, she became pregnant in the course of a casual summer romance . . . Hall offers a testament to the importance of understanding and even forgiving the people who, however unconscious or unkind, have made us who we are."—Francine Prose, O Magazine

"Meredith Hall's long journey from an inexcusably betrayed girlhood to the bittersweet mercies of womanhood is a triple triumph—of survival; of narration; and of forgiveness. Without a Map is a masterpiece."—David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and God Laughs and Plays

"Each chapter of Without a Map is polished and elegantly written . . . the structure is shapely and the book yields poignant insights."—Juliet Wittman, Washington Post

"Beautifully rendered."—Elle, nonfiction readers' pick

"In 1965, in a small New Hampshire town, sixteen-year-old Meredith Hall got pregnant and was consequently kicked out of her school, home, church, and community. Hall's mother sent her to another town to live with her father and stepmother, who confined her to the house. Days after giving birth (her baby was put up for adoption), she interviewed at a boarding school where she was forbidden to mention anything about her past. Hall's memoir, Without a Map, is a devastating story of what happens when a person is exiled from her own life."—Frances Lefkowitz, Body + Soul

"A poignant, unflinchingly assured memoir . . . exquisite." —Robert Braile, Boston Globe

"Meredith Hall's magnificent book held me in its thrall from the moment I began reading the opening pages . . . a fluid, beautifully written, hard-won piece of work that belongs on the shelf next to the best modern memoirs."—Dani Shapiro, author of Black and White

"An unusually elegant memoir that feels as though it's been carved straight out of Meredith Hall's capacious heart. The story is riveting, the words perfect."—Lauren Slater, author of Welcome to My Country and Opening Skinner's Box

"Without a Map is stunning . . . Book groups, take note."—Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807072738
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 4/11/2007
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.78 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Read an Excerpt

without a map

a memoir
By Meredith Hall

Beacon Press

Copyright © 2007 Meredith Hall
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8070-7273-8


Chapter One

The Lonely Hunter

The day is warm, gray and damp. Early July, but the horizon between the sky and ocean bleeds. It is 1965; I am sixteen. Hampton Beach is almost deserted, with the crowds across the boulevard in the shops.

"Hrrr," a young man says, dropping down beside me on the old blanket. It sounds like a growl, or a low dark purr. "What are you reading?" He takes the paperback from me. I don't say anything. "Carson McCullers. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Mine is," he says, laughing.

He has black curly hair, dark skin, and a crooked nose. He wears shorts and no shirt or shoes. His legs and chest are covered in thick, black curly hair. The boys in my class have smooth skin still, and most don't shave yet. I am scared, feeling myself caught already in something dangerous.

"You don't say much, do you? You look really good, though."

I take the book back and open it again, pretending to find my place and read.

"What are you doing here all by yourself? I think you need some company." He makes that strange growl deep in his throat again, and smiles. "Talk to me." He takes my book and slides it under his belly on the blanket. "There. Now you're either going to have to talk to me or go after your book. I'm happy either way."

He is self-confident. I feel silly and young, unable to talk, to keep up with his flirtation. But I also feel a sudden rising power, a new sense of my body and my skin-a recklessness, as if I am slipping over a wall into something dangerous and intoxicating. I want this boy, this young man, to love me. I have been embarrassed to be alone on the beach. What sixteen-year-old spends the summer at the beach alone-day after day, whether it is sunny or not-reading books and watching the tide move in and out? But suddenly my aloneness is a commodity, a mystery, payback.

"Cat got your tongue?" he asks.

I don't like the cliché. I haven't smiled yet. It makes me feel more grown-up, sophisticated. I am on my side, my head resting on my cocked arm. I like the way my hip rises from my waist. I roll onto my stomach, then feel his hand on the small of my back. It is shocking-skin to skin. I can't speak.

"Hrrr, Skeet, look what I found," he says to another boy walking up to us.

"Nice one!" Skeet says. They laugh.

"What's a nice girl like you doing down here at the beach?" my boy asks.

I try to sound aloof, careless. "I work here."

"She speaks!" he says. "This is good. Where do you work?"

"Nowhere," I say, turning my head away.

He suddenly jumps up. "Let's go," he says to Skeet.

A bubble of panic rises up in me. I want to hold on to this time, on to him and his admiring eyes and confidence and black hair. I feel as if I have missed something important for a long time and here it is, walking away. I feel hungry, desperate for him to stay, to lie back down next to me and pull my book away and touch my skin again.

"In the casino," I say. "It's my day off." I feel the heat rise in my face and neck. I am breaking every rule. "At the candy store and miniature golf."

He purrs again. "The casino. I love miniature golf, don't you, Skeet?"

I watch him walk up to the boardwalk and across the street. He turns just as he crosses the boardwalk and yells, "My name is Anthony! Don't forget!" I spend the afternoon looking up from my book every few minutes, trying to find his black curly head and dark skin in the crowds jostling in and out of the shops and arcade. Seagulls scream and call, floating overhead, pure white crosses against the dark sky. The afternoon wind comes up. Two months from now I will be pregnant. I put my jeans and shirt on over my swimsuit and wait for my mother to pick me up.

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, is a honky-tonk place in 1965. Maybe it has always been. For years my mother forbade us children from going there except once a summer when my grandmother drove my brother and sister and me down to "the beach" in her '55 Ford. We'd park in the sandy lot behind the casino and spend the evening walking with the crowd, stopping at our favorite stores. My grandmother spoke familiarly to Mrs. Junkins at the candy store. We watched the big old taffy machine pull and twist and braid the shiny candy and left with a big box for my mother, who refused to "do" the beach. My grandmother gave us dimes in the arcade to play skee-ball and have our fortunes told by the creaking and faded and beautiful gypsy doll in the big glass box. We ate hamburgers at Wimpy's, sitting on the heavy green bench on the sidewalk and watching all the other tourists wander by. They were mostly French Canadians, with very short shorts and white socks in their leather sandals. They were a big part of why my mother refused to let us go down to the beach. She told us that we were too good to be around these people, that we shouldn't even want to be there. That there was something cheap and ordinary going on there, and we were not cheap or ordinary. The beach meant day-tripping workers from Massachusetts, from the mill towns of Haverhill-my mother's hometown -and Amesbury and Lowell. It meant old ladies and men dragging their beach chairs down the boardwalk and onto the sand. It meant families eating sandwiches on striped blankets and playing shoulder to shoulder with strangers in the cold rolling waves. And it meant young people, kids, boys and girls with different rules from mine, prowling the beach for beer and kisses and secret dates somewhere on the mile-long sands. The beach was a playground of the old world: 1950s America, a relic of both innocence and hidden transgressions.

But this summer, 1965, is a threshold time. My mother comes to Hampton Beach, too, every day, with Peter. The editor of New Hampshire Profiles magazine and my mother's boss, Peter has asked her to work with him for the summer on a federally funded project. My father left our family just a few years ago, a devastating loss for my mother. Now she is in love with Peter, or at least with Peter's life-the music, the art, the artist friends, the late nights with their underlying beat of love and heat. Before she met Peter, my mother was president of the PTA and chair of the church social events committee. She polished our silver-plated forks and knives and carefully hemmed my skirts below the knee. But she has entered a new life and is intoxicated with it. She starts to write short stories, to read Sartre and Camus and Hesse and Rilke. She lets her hair grow out from her short and practical wave, and the handsome dark wool and gabardine dresses she sewed with such skill are pushed to the back of her closet. She wears slacks and turtlenecks and Mexican sandals. Finishing her duties as mother to her last child at home seems unmanageable, a commitment she resents and resists. Suddenly, I find myself accompanying her each day to the forbidden beach and spending long lonely hours before and after work waiting for her.

Peter and my mother do important work, work that justifies her drive each morning to the mildewed, sandy office of the Hampton Beach Riot Committee. I don't know how Peter's editorship of a small New Hampshire magazine, how his jazz and writing qualify him to head the riot study commission. I don't know what my mother, with her cool judgments of others' misbehavior, wants to bring to a study of youth gone wild. But for the summer of 1965, Peter and my mother work in the glass-wrapped office of the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce, right on the boardwalk along the white sand beach, building a report on the causes of the riots the summer before.

On Labor Day eve 1964, the huge crowd of kids gathered at the beach for the holiday coalesced into a rioting mob. The police and firefighters responded with force, driving the rioters across the beach and into the water. Each time, the crowd swept back into the streets, attacking the cops with rocks and Molotov cocktails. Finally, in the middle of the night, the governor called out the National Guard and declared martial law. The guard closed down all the roads into the beach and set up machine gun stations along the main road. It took them until dawn on Labor Day to contain the riot, with dozens of police and kids left wounded.

The Hampton Beach riots stunned the nation, which still clung to the passive, determined calm of the 1950s. The rioters were average kids from area towns, not troublemakers with a history. A year later, no one has figured out what they were all so angry about. Peter and my mother are charged with interviewing hundreds of rioters, finding answers and coming up with recommendations so this cannot happen again. They do a good job. The police receive extensive sensitivity training. Bongo drums and radios playing rock 'n' roll are finally allowed on the beach with no police action. Bikinis no longer earn a citation for indecency. My mother feels sympathy for these kids. At a moment of great transformation in her own life, she understands the surge of change that is gathering force in this seedy little summer town and is soon to engulf the country.

I feel the swelling energy, the inexplicable, restless hunger, rising in my own innocent life. I don't care at all about the music or the drinking or the gathering together of teenagers for fun and the thrill of belonging. But my father is gone. He has a new life, a new wife and daughter, and never calls or visits. I miss him badly. My mother is inaccessible. My older brother and sister have moved on to their own lives, leaving me very alone at home and on the beach while my mother works and plays with Peter. I feel lost, caught between my old life at home-a safe, small, family life-and the new life on which my mother has opened the door. A growing sense of dread, of confusion, of abandonment and desperation is starting to erase my childhood. I am hungry to be loved, and understand the rioters' anger, the eruptive release, the need to defy. I understand the pulsing impatience. I feel a powerful dark longing that throws me back into myself. Most of this I cannot name or explain. But as the summer slides along, I know one thing very clearly: I am drifting in over my head and want my mother to grab me out of the tide.

My mother was a guardian of the old rules until she met Peter and stepped into his world. Now, I teeter on a frightened edge between our two lives, understanding that I am to follow the old system, that I must be contained. I grew up with certain indisputable expectations for my behavior: I would dress modestly. I would never call a boy. I would never be alone with a boy. I would not lie or sneak. I would not talk back. But this summer, as my mother moves farther and farther into her new life, I spend more and more time alone. After her work on the committee ends late in the day and my work at the casino is over, my mother drives me home and then heads to Peter's house, up the coast five miles to eat, drink, make music and conversation with friends. She is happy and alive. Our house is very quiet.

The biggest change is that she suddenly allows me to date. My mother stops asking where I am going and with whom. She tells me to be home at ten, but she is not there to hear me come in. Suddenly, I am on my own to make up the new rules. Once, I told her how much I liked a boy putting his hand on my leg at the movie. She disapproved: "Meredy, never let a boy do that."

"Why?"

She was disgusted. "Because one thing leads to another." But she wouldn't tell me how to reconcile her expectations for my proper behavior with the new universe we both found ourselves in.

I spend the first weeks of the summer holding myself to the old rules. Then one day, I shop in the cheap little stores along the beach while I wait for her to get out of work. I find a bikini-white dotted swiss with big black polka dots and ruffles over the seat. I try it on in the cramped dressing room. I love what I see. I am thin, brown, mature. It confuses me, the good girl.

The next day, I strut all morning up and down the beach outside my mother's wall of windows at the chamber. Up and down, up and down. Only a few girls wear bikinis still, and I am the center of attention. Men whistle. Boys fall into step beside me and ask for my name, my phone number. I love their interest. I want them to love me, to hold me, to fill the vast empty space in my life that is starting to scare me so much.

I can see my mother bent over her desk on the second floor, answering the phone, walking out of sight and returning. Several times I wave but get no response. By the end of the day, I decide that this is going to be my new skin. I leap into a new life that afternoon, blind and alone, reckless. When I climb into my mother's car at the curb at five thirty, I don't cover up with a shirt. I wait, wanting her to draw me, to draw us, back to the safety of our other life, the life in which a father and mother hold ground. She looks sideways at me but doesn't say a word.

When I am back in the shelter of my small, sunny room at home, I fold my old one-piece swimsuit into the back of a drawer for good. I hear my mother's car pull back out. I close my door and stand in front of the mirror, studying my body. A trained dancer, I am strong and thin. The polka-dotted ruffles on my bottom look innocent, playful. I stroke the soft roundness of my breasts, the dark hollow between them, and the smooth curve at the small of my back. I have areas of baby-fine white skin on my chest and belly and back that need exposure, need to brown up in the open air. Except for that, I am ready. When Anthony puts his hand on my back that cloudy July afternoon, I am ready.

* * *

It is Labor Day 1965. There are no stars tonight. No moon. The beach is divided in two: the upper part by the boardwalk is a sad greenish-pink from the mercury lights overhead; the lower part is dark, with a silvery light from the wave crests rising and then seeping over the sand, rising and seeping. That's where Anthony takes me, over the line of light into the dark. The beach monument-a seated woman looking out to sea for her lost love-marks the spot where Skeet waits in Anthony's car. It has been exactly a year since the riots erupted and two months since we met. Everything at the beach is quiet, but inside I can feel rising something dangerous, a chaotic push and pull.

As we walk along the water's edge, Anthony laughs and teases me, as he does each time we are together, about how protected I have been, how naïve, how girlish I am. "Are you sure you're not afraid of the dark?" he asks. "Your mother must have told you never to let a guy like me take you to the beach on a night like this." Later, he says, "Don't worry. I'm here to protect you from the sharks." He doesn't hold my hand or put his arm around me. In fact, we have barely kissed all summer.

I have seen Anthony six or seven times since I met him. I have never been alone with him; he and Skeet are a team. They made their way to the second floor of the casino on a hot evening a few days after that first inflaming afternoon and found me at the miniature golf desk handing out clubs and balls to a steady flow of people. I was bored. When I noticed Anthony standing in line, I felt no surprise. I knew he would come.

The upstairs of the old casino is dark and musty and cold even on a hot, sunny day. The floorboards creak as people move around the cavernous room. Anthony and Skeet played three rounds of golf. Anthony has an athletic body and a confident, easy walk. He joked with me about the silliness of my job and the fact that I was all bundled up against the cold wind that blasted up the wide concrete steps of the casino. "Why aren't you in that cute little thing you had on the other clay?" he asked. "The thing with the ruffles." I was busy and didn't have to do anything more than smile back. By the time he and Skeet left, Anthony knew my name and how to call me.

Carl, a friend who worked with me every day, asked, "Who was that?"

"Just a guy I met," I said. I felt guilty.

"He's got to be twenty years old, Meredy. Why are you talking to a guy like that?"

"He's nice," I said. "Don't worry. We're not going out or anything."

"Does your mother know about him?"

"Yeah," I said. "She just said no cars." He knew I was lying. I had never mentioned Anthony to my mother, and she had stopped worrying about cars.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from without a map by Meredith Hall Copyright © 2007 by Meredith Hall. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue: Shunned....................ix
Chapter One: The Lonely Hunter....................1
Chapter Two: Waiting....................15
Chapter Three: Stronghold....................33
Chapter Four: The Uprising....................47
Chapter Five: Again....................65
Chapter Six: Drawing the Line....................77
Chapter Seven: Without a Map....................97
Chapter Eight: A River of Light....................117
Chapter Nine: Double Vision....................121
Chapter Ten: Killing Chickens....................141
Chapter Eleven: Threshold....................147
Chapter Twelve: Propitiation....................151
Chapter Thirteen: Chimeras....................163
Chapter Fourteen: Reckonings....................183
Chapter Fifteen: The River of Forgetting....................195
Chapter Sixteen: Sojourn....................203
Chapter Seventeen: Outport Shadows....................209
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 17, 2009

    Emotional book! A story of survival

    One of the best books I have EVER read! Unbelievable story of survival and emotional turmoil around. I read this book in a very short amount of time because I just could not put it down! This book is not only absorbing but inspirational!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2007

    What a journey!

    I had heard of this book (Without a Map) in the April issue of 'O' magazine. I purchased it six months later, and as I read it, I had to put it down a couple of times because of the emotional impact it had on me. Anyone who dares to be honest enough about the effects of familial abandonment should read this book. This book took me on an amazing journey that ended with a different resolution than I had imagined. I recommend Meredith Hall's 'Without a Map' to anyone who is brave enough to take the journey through heartbreak, loneliness, and most of all reconciliation with one's family and one's past.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2007

    A beautiful book!

    I have just finished reading Without a Map and I am truly moved. I feel a connection to Meredith Hall and to her story. Being a parent at the age of 18 - though in a different time - I can totally relate. This is a warm story highlighting the unending challenges of finding yourself once scarred by your past. I am touched by her story and look forward to the next installment.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book is so emotional. You can feel this Meredith's pain, but she does not want you to feel sorry for her. She tells her story in a way that you feel part of it. Very worth while!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    I saw this book in a recent Oprah magazine and decided to pick it up. Since I live near where the book takes place, I found it very interesting. I read the book on a recent family road trip and had a difficult time putting it down. Nearing the end of the book, I actually cried when her elderly houseguest passed, it touched my heart. This was a great memoir and I would recommend it to anyone. I only wish she would write another book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2007

    Inside a Life

    This memoir draws the reader in and holds your interest. I needed to find out what happened next in this extraordinary life. The writing is elegant.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2007

    Couldn't put it down

    This book is surprising, soulful, sad and incredibly joyful. I read it in one sitting. Anyone with parents or with children should read this memoir, which peels away the onion layers of complex family life. How do you coexist with simultaneously loving and hating your family? How do you create closure for yourself?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2007

    Beautifully written, elegant and direct

    Meredith Hall has written unflinchingly about sensitive subjects and a life scarred by rigid expectations. Her parents and many others let her down, but she never lets the reader down in this searing memoir. Ultimately, she draws her own map.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2007

    Without a Map: A Memoir

    This is an account that no one should have to write. It's 1965 and good girls don't get pregnant. Meredith writes a sad...revealing...heartfelt account of her pregnancy at age 16 and how she was criticized, rejected and treated miserably by friends and family. How does she survive it? How does she regain control of her life? Does she ever meet her child? The book is based upon Ms. Hall's struggles to understand why her life changed so quickly and drastically as well as how she struggles to repair it. Her descriptions are vivid and the issues she raises are very thought provoking...great read...compelling.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    I picked up this book because like the author I am a birth mom.

    I picked up this book because like the author I am a birth mom. I found the book way too confusing as it bounced back and forth from child to adult to teen to child to adult etc. I even found a few chapters disturbing. I understand the pain behind her actions but some were just WAY too out there and bizarre. I would not recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    Very highly recommended!

    As I was reading this book, I would glance to see how many pages I had left as I didn't want it to end! The writing style made me feel and walk with the author through her life and made me examine myself and relationships in my life.
    I love this book.

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  • Posted September 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    WOW

    As a contemporary of Ms Hall, I remember the stretching and straining of mores with "girls in trouble". In more cosmopolitan NJ, girls were choosing to not be forced into marriage and still keeping their babies. Entering University of NH in the Fall of 1967, I found NH a much more insular - pizza was much too ethnic a food for this college town - so the shame and guilt visited upon her seem so genuine - The tone of the story reinforces the difficulty in the telling. It must have been such a difficult story to write. A great reference for our daughters and granddaughters to understand the social strictures and blatant double standard of the 1960s.
    Thank you for your courage

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2009

    I found this story sad. It was chosed by our book club. certainly provoked a lot of discussion. we would have liked to know more about parts of the authors life that she did not share.

    This is a story about a teen age girl in the 1960's who becomes pregnant & is ostracized by her family. The book describes what happens to her over the next 30 or so years.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2008

    This book is Amazing

    I don't know what that previous reader was talking about not believing the author, saying they grew up at the same time in the same place and remembers it differently. I think that's a matter of perspective and maybe he or she lived their lives , differently and didn't follow the same people or were just out of touch. I grew up in Hampton , raised children in Hampton and hung out at Hampton beach. I remember it and her descriptions are right on. Not to mention that I also reside in epping NH and its just wonderful to read a book that describes the towns and environment , that you can related to literally. It makes this book take on a vivid life. It breaths. It is true how pregnancy was considered tabu with a young girl and a one night stand so to speak, its true that your schools and churches and friends seem to validate the shame more than the unconditional love. Especially in 1965. So for some who think she made it up? How about just giving the benefit of the doubt. I would bet that the same 10 people could live in one town, have similar memories but have different perspectives. Thanks you Meredith.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    I grew up in the same town at the same time. We have another James Frey on our hands here. While I did not know Ms. Hall, I remember things being quite different than she describes. I read about this book in O Magazine and became interested in it. You would have thought that Oprah would be more careful after the Frey incident and not been taken twice.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2007

    Enough Already!

    I found this book introspective to the point of nausea. I emphathized with her pain and rejection from family when she was most in need. But the years of wandering the world, wearing rags and going hungry and constantly and willingly reliving her disappointments... just got OLD.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2007

    Loved it!!

    The emotional expression in this book was captivating! I read it in a day and a half! I couldn't put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2007

    Strongly Recommend

    I really enjoyed this book, one of the best books I have read in a while. did not want it to end. Especially enjoyed her stories of travelling throughout other countries.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2007

    BRILLIANT WRITER, SPELL-BINDING BOOK

    Hall tells a story of triumph and redemption after being cast out of her family, her church, her school and her community at age 16. Why? Because she became pregnant with one boy from out of town on the one night they made love on a sandy beach in New Hampshire. The boy deserts her, too. But Hall's courage and intelligence, her will to survive and her profound insights save her, and they have resulted in the best book I've read--and I read at least two a week--in years

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2007

    The Four S's

    RE: Without A Map When I was a teenager my girlfriends and I loved reading those romance mags. However,the girls who did the dirty deed always got pregnant...sentenced to a life of secretly wearing the scarlett letter,forever adrift in the world with no hope of any future happiness. A while back More Magazine and NYT Book Review published a few letters to the editor when another one of these sad sack sob sister memoirs came out that showed some woman went on to live very happy,productive,content lives. They felt the past was the past and they did what had to be done. I suspect that there are more of these type woman among us than book publishers are aware. I have many friends who adopted children and they are very grateful for this type of woman.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews

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